Undone by Blood or Shadows of a Wanted Man creators interview with Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler

Nov 20, 2019

ZAC THOMPSON ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY HE’S EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:

“The book is about Ethel Grady Lane, a young woman who’s on a quest for revenge. A year before the book begins her entire family was murdered while passing through the town of Sweetheart Arizona. After feeling like the police have done nothing, Ethel returns to Sweetheart with a revolver in her hand to make things right. She has no idea who she’s looking for but she’s determined to find the man who killed her family. Her quest for revenge is fueled by the novel she’s reading “Shadow of a Wanted Man” – an old school pulp western about famed gunslinger Solomon Eaton. Sol is the second lead of the book, as we follow his own personal quest for revenge alongside Ethel’s.

I’m so excited for people to get their hands on Undone By Blood because I feel like it’s been ages since we’ve had a proper Western in comics. We’ve gone full Coen Brothers, full Sergio Leone, and the town of Sweetheart feels lived in and chewed up. It’s very cinematic and beautiful, with long stretches of silence and a metanarrative at its heart. I don’t think comic book readers have experienced anything like it.”

ZAC THOMPSON ON SOME OF HIS INSPIRATION BEHIND THE PROJECT:

“Lonnie and I are both huge fans of Spaghetti Westerns. Visually they’re some of the most wonderfully shot and dynamic films out there. They rely on visual storytelling first and foremost and often feature leads who speak seldomly. We were dying to bring that energy to comics. Beyond that, we both adore the fiction of Cormac McCarthy and wanted to do a book about the mythologization of violence in America. The Western has always been a genre that flirts with explosive bursts of horrible violence and we wanted to explore the very real cost of that violence and how it often creates a cycle. So we looked to one of the most brutal storytellers out there. This book will cut your heart out and eat it by the end.”

ZAC THOMPSON ON THE ART FOR THIS BOOK:

“Sami Kivelä is one of the best artists working in comics today – bare none. His sense of pacing on the page and impeccable visual storytelling skills made him the perfect fit for this book. Everything we’ve thrown at him in our scripts has been complex as we’re trying to push ourselves with every issue – and Sami knocks it out of the park every time. He’s able to break down the important elements of a page and completely restructure things from the way we may have imagined them, but it’s always perfect and completely in line with the story we’re telling. We’ve been trying to do a project with Sami for years and have been cooking up this book for a while. We’ve also got the incredible Jason Wordie on colors, which together he and Sami are a dream team. They have a real shorthand with one another’s styles that elevates every page. They’ve worked together before, so the collaboration is only getting better here.”

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ZAC THOMPSON ON IF CO-WRITING WITH LONNIE HAS COME EASIER AS THEY’VE COLLABORATED MORE, OR IF EACH PROJECT PRESENTS NEW CHALLENGES:

“Every project is different. But at this point, after writing over 30 single issues together we’ve got quite the hivemind. Often when we’re stuck on a scene we’ll come up with remarkably similar solutions. If we get a note, we both usually have the same reaction and solve ready. It’s quite fascinating at this point because we’re both so attuned to one another’s tastes that it makes writing as a team pretty seamless. Every book is different and challenging in its own right but the thing I truly appreciate about our collaboration is that we never prioritize quick solutions to anything. There were full days where we’d pain over a single page of this book, trying to come up with the perfect way to structure it and tell the story. Even after all these years, we still put in the time and discuss every last detail. We don’t write a single page without the other person present and that hasn’t changed since the beginning.”

LONNIE NADLER ON (3) REASONS WHY COMIC FANS SHOULD ADD THIS TITLE TO THEIR PULL LIST:

  1. If you like Westerns, you’ll like this.
  2. It is, hands down, the best thing Zac and I have done together.
  3. There is no possible way anyone could ever guess how the series ends.

LONNIE NADLER ON WHEN AND HOW DID HE AND HIS WRITING PARTNER, ZAC THOMPSON, MET?

“Zac and I met about 6 years ago now, and it was a very serendipitous encounter on a bus ride home from Emerald City Comic Con. The weirdest part about it is that Zac and I quickly realized we were actually attending the same writing program back in Vancouver, where we both lived. We’d probably walked by one another every single day in the hallways on campus, but never spoke until we discovered our shared love for comics. We hung out a few times, and right away realized we wanted to try writing as a pair, and 6 years later, here we are.”

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LONNIE NADLER ON THE ART FOR THE BOOK?

“We were very fortunate to get Sami Kivelä on board as the artist for Undone By Blood. He’s hot off his stints on the Eisner nominated book, Abbott, and his latest hit series, Machine Gun Wizards. Sami is truly a dream artist for Zac and I as we approach comics with very similar storytelling sensibilities. Sami has an incredible mind for inventive page layouts, but he’s also so adept at knowing when to slow down, and to let the quiet moments breathe and speak for themselves. Working on a neo Western, those two elements were very important to us because the genre is so meditative at its core. You need to be able to communicate a sense of emotion, whether you’re looking at a landscape or at a person’s face, and Sami is one of the few artists who can accomplish both with ease. We’ve also got Jason Wordie as the colorist, and he compliments Sami’s work perfectly, adding richness to the story in his own right. It’s been a beautiful experience to simply see these two bring our words to life.”

LONNIE NADLER ON WHAT LED HE AND ZAC BOTH DECIDING TO USE A DUAL NARRATIVE IN THIS SERIES:

“I’d always been a fan of metatextual storytelling, which stems from my love for postmodern literature by the likes of Paul Auster and Italo Calvino, and so I’d been wanting to try my hand at telling a story within a story for quite some time. However, it took Zac and I both seeing Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals to realize how we could do this in comics. We both adore that movie and it really inspired us to challenge ourselves, not only to write something we’ve never tried before, but to write something nobody in comics has tried before (to our knowledge). We thought it might be interesting to couple this dual narrative idea with our desire to explore and demythologize the Western. The result are two very different stories within one book that impact each other in unpredictable ways that examine the lasting legacy, both good and bad, of the Western genre on contemporary American culture.”

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